National Geographic : 1952 Aug
232 Thommas Weir A Porter Buys Wheat Flour at Tapoban for the Journey Through Rishi Gorge Native foods, purchased in highland villages, were the mainstay of the Scots' diet. Traveling light, they carried limited amounts of tinned foods. Here several women came to us to show stomachs pitted with small, clean scars. Thinking it was some kind of skin disease, Murray painted each scar with Castillani's paint, a deep purple medicine which the ladies admired. Hot Coals for a Stomach-ache Not until long after did he learn the true origin of the scars. When a Bhotia woman has a severe stomach-ache or dysentery, she lies down, places a live coal on her stomach, and a friend blows it red hot! From Yansu we had hoped to reconnoiter Panch Chuli (page 199), but the rainy and overcast weather veiled its face. At last we decided to start climbing in the hope that high up the clouds would clear. Our first view of the mountain next day was breath-taking. The whole range rose 12,000 feet above our camp. Four summits soared over a welter of rock faces, crevassed ridges, and fierce ice bulges. Waterfalls a thousand feet high leaped over crags. We had never seen such uncompromising peaks or such colossal icefalls. Reconnaissance showed that there were two possible approaches to the main peak (22,650 feet), the north and the south col. We chose the north. It was pure gamble, as neither was visible. By the time we reached 19,000 feet on the mountain, our two porters had had enough. Climbing so high with 60-pound packs had taken every ounce of their will power and reflected great credit upon our doughty Dotials. Giving them a rope and a warning to stick to the steps we had cut that morning, we said our salaams and shouldered the kit. But the potential dangers of avalanche and crevasse in the mists of this difficult mountain were too great for us to continue. We camped be tween two crevasses (page 196). Then came a most marvelous sight, though one that brought us disappointment. Panch Chuli threw off its cloud. At the head of the glacier before us was the col on which we had hoped to camp. It rose above rock, sheer for nearly 1,000 feet. Grooved ice at its foot indicated avalanche danger. Also, the ridge rising from it to the summit gleamed translucent in the sunshine ice, 2,000 feet of it, in which every step would need to be cut by ice ax. Clearly, this was not the route to the top of Panch Chuli. Despite the sting of defeat, we did not re gret coming up. We were in a shining basin ringed by mountains whose walls fell like folds of pleated silk. Below, the clouds were boil ing up in masses of cumulus, huge towers of it, that wound around the ridges of Tibet and Nepal. Tonight we did not belong to the earth.